Growing up, I was the youngest of four children. By the time I came around, we had hundreds of picture books in our house and I recall many happy hours spent listening to and enjoying those books.

I grew up loving to read as a kid and I still do. Turns out, having lots of books at home and my love of reading were not a coincidence.

Home libraries are super important when it comes to literacy achievement.

A recent study found that books in the home, more than anything else (including nationality, level of parents’ education, or economic status) helped a child go further in school, and achieve more in life. It seems so simple, yet so powerful. Just owning books = more success for kids.

To learn more about exactly how home libraries affect children, be sure to read my recent post about the effects of home libraries on your child’s success.

While, as parents, we know that home libraries are important, sometimes it’s hard to know just how to create the perfect home library.

As a reading teacher, I’m often asked by parents, “What books would be good for my kid?” or “How many books should I have?” The answer is, it depends.

While any number of books that your child will read and love is a good place to start, there are lots ways you build a fabulous home library.

How Many Children’s Books Should I Own?


Luckily, even a modest home library can get your child off to the right start.

A home with 20 age-appropriate books is enough to help a child become Kindergarten-ready, and with every book added beyond that, the gains increase.

The magic number of books seems to be about 100 (age-appropriate). A 2014 study showed that the greatest effect was found when there were at least 100 books at a child’s reading level in the home. But there is nothing wrong with having an even bigger library.

When it comes to the size of a home library, the more books the merrier! However, you can rest assured that at some point, you do have enough books. The effects of book ownership, according to the same study petered out around 500.

Which Books Should I Own?


In my house, I’d say, thanks to grandparents and garage sales, we have between 200 and 300 books for my boys. Some of them they love and read over and over. Others they never touch. It can be tough to find books that our kids will really love, but it’s really important that we do.

Turns out, that owning a large library of children’s books only matters if they are the type of books that children want to read. So here are some fantastic resources finding just the right books for your kids:

  • The Children’s Book Council publishes annual lists of books for your home library based on children’s age ranges.
  • Former elementary teacher, Melissa of, has lists of every variety for children based on age and genres.
  • If you are looking for picture books to read aloud, chapter books to enjoy together or books for your emerging reader, Erica at What Do We Do All Day has a list for you.

If you’re just getting started with your home library, Reading Rockets offers some tips for getting off the ground (see the pun there?).

Sometimes, I feel like I’m surrounded by kids books, but then I fondly recall the full shelves in my childhood home. I hope when my kids think back on their childhood, they’ll happily remember many hours we spent reading their books. My guess is that they will. And it won’t be a coincidence.


Early Shirts and You

At Early Shirts, we believe books are powerful, especially in the hands of children. But far too many children don’t have access to books and that’s a problem. That’s why we’re busy making sure all children have books to call their own at an early age. You can help! Shop Early Shirts today and help kids get books. One Shirt = One Book. It’s simple, magical math.